While the technicians and engineers at S.A. Vagianelis attend to “Doc,” my 2005 BMW F650GS Dakar that sat in hibernation here in Athens since October 2016, I spent the day wandering the city center. During my last trip, I took in all the historic sites from the Parthenon to the Acropolis museum. So today I just wandered.
For me, I get intense pleasure in wandering off the main drag and into neighborhoods where people are simply living life day-to-day. Even in the most touristed places, it’s easy to find people and places that seem oblivious to the throngs of tourists milling about their city or town.
Just taking a walk a few hundred meters off the tony pedestrian road of Ermou, a street lined with expensive shops including many exclusive fashion brands, mostly clothing, lingerie, and shoes. Yet, down the narrow alleys, I found it curious how many shops were touting and selling fabric and the piles of trim that goes with it. Perhaps I was in the “fabric district” but with every twist and turn of Athens alleys, I would always stumble on another store packed with fabric. Yes, it seems that despite the big fashion brands, many locals still make their own clothes. This is something I know is rooted in tradition, and not because of desire, rather, because of necessity and economics.
I’m also fascinated by street art. Not the obnoxious and illegible scribbles tagged by those with complete disregard of sensibility, but rather the colorful and expressive illustrations. Some simply for art’s sake, while others for a personal or political message. Some cities, like Detroit in the United States are like street museums that start in the center and fan out to urban neighborhoods. Here in Athens, at least where I wandered today, I found just a handful of drawings that captured my eye and the lens of my camera.
Back to the bike and details that impact my departure from this city. I am waiting for new tires to be shipped from England. They were due to arrive a couple weeks ago, but they were never shipped. I’m excited to test new dual-sport tyres (the Brit spelling) from Avon: TrekRiders. I like the tread pattern, they are perhaps 60/40 or 70/30 more for street riding but will handle well on gravel and dirt roads, too. Plus, I’m told, they get great mileage. I’m not sure how many miles Doc and I will travel on this eastern European adventure, but starting with new “shoes” is always a good idea.
I’m told the tyres should arrive tomorrow, Thursday. I want to leave first thing Saturday morning.
The State of Doc
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